WHEN TO USE A DESIGN PROFESSIONAL
It is in the early stages of your design renovation project when it is best to consider thoroughly whether or not to use a design professional. This decision will set the tone for the way to move forward and it is always best to clear on your destination before you set out.
To do a design project, there are certain things that are required on all projects, no matter what scope of work is involved or how large or small. The degree to which these elements matter will be directly correlated to the size of your project; however, each one is necessary on all jobs.
These include TIME, ENERGY, and INTEREST AND EXPERTISE. Let’s examine each of these individually.
Time is a commodity. We are all trying to fit more into our daily lives than ever before. This is one of the areas I think we magically believe we can change. Or we are willing to try and cram in more things into our day, if only for a short period of time. I always advise being realistic about the amount of free time you have to dedicate to the project. If you do not have time currently to do all the things in your life that you find important, then perhaps adding another major task into the mix is not going to yield the best results. I always suggest being realistic here, because to not be realistic always results in high levels of stress and disappointment.
As Gary Keller of The ONE THING carefully shares, our will power is not on call. We each have a set amount of energy. It is not unlimited, as we sometimes act. This is a fact of life and part of the laws of nature, which cannot be changed or expanded despite our best intentions or desire. Therefore, the best way to manage our own energy is to understand its properties and use it wisely. It is said that we operate between 70-90% on autopilot. That most of our activities in our daily lives are things we have figured out and made into routines so they do not take an active participation in our brains as a ‘new’ activity. Therefore these activities and tasks take up little energy. It is when we try to do something new that more energy is required. Managing your own design project will be for most non-professionals a totally new experience. Although most people may be capable of understanding it and feel capable of doing a lot of new things, you will need to expend the energy (and time) to learn how to do these new things. This will require an exertion of energy. Just take note of this when you are reviewing your options on whether you want to DIY your own job or hire others to help.
These days everyone seems to have an interest in design because it is exciting and important. Your space is a reflection of you and it looks like so much fun on TV to makeover your space, choose the colors, and watch everything transform right before your eyes. However, you need to be really clear about what your exact interests are in all aspects of the project. Depending on the project scope of work, you have the decoration aspect, which most people focus on and which can be the fun part, and there are many other aspects to all projects that are not just the fun pieces that most people don’t think about.
I always say the most critical aspect of any design project is the implementation of the design. My designs can be really pretty, but if you cannot build them, then it is not a good design. As a professional designer for over 25 years, the majority of the work on any project is not the actual selection of the pretty stuff or the creative design. It is the implementation of the details of the project. This can include the purchasing of the furniture or appliances, the coordination of the deliveries, the set up and installation of everything, not to mention the coordination and supervision of the construction itself. You would think this would not be that much work when the design is done; however it is these details that are the key to a successful project.
Modern myth is that it takes over 10,000 hours to become an expert. Whether this is technically true or not, I believe we can agree that it takes a lot of focused time and energy to become an expert in any one thing. Nothing can remove this fact. To be good at something simply takes time and to be great takes even more time – and to be an expert takes even more time! Period.
So, if you decide you want to do your design project as a DIY, it is important to know you will need to take some time to consider the decisions throughout the job – and you may make some mistakes. Most of us learn through trial and error. Even with Google and the TV shows and help from the store design team, you will be certain that unless you have dedicated a good portion of your life to creating a design, as a design professional has, you will be bound to make some mistakes. We are human, after all. Going into this with a realistic understanding is much better so you do not get overly stressed out when these things happen. I always suggest that managing your own expectations is the single most essential aspect to a successful project. Plus learning to correct and continue throughout the process is a great path to a happy ending.
Review of your own amount of time, energy, interest and expertise will allow you to assess your own project and whether or not you want to, or need to, work solo or whether it pays to work with a design professional in some manner.
HOW TO HIRE A DESIGN PROFESSIONAL
Once you decide you need to get some professional assistance for your project – whether it is a full package or something like my DIWY™ service, you will need to determine who you would like to work with.
Design Professionals are not all created equal, by any stretch of the imagination. Just like any other professional, you will have really awesome designers and really poor ones and every level in between.
Clarify which type of design professional you need help from. It can range from an Architect, Interior Designer, Decorator, Engineer, or some combination of the above. Understanding what your design professional provides and what you need is key to hiring the right professional.
My recommendations for the steps to take when looking to hire a design professional include the following:
Check their References and talk with past clients.
Always make sure they are telling the truth about who they are and what they have as education and professional credentials. I have been astounded over the years at the creative license people use on their website, resumes and in proposals.
Communication Style. You will need to make sure the people that will be on your team will be able to communicate with you in a manner that works best for you. This of course means you need to know what your own style preferences are!
Right Fit. Once you have confirmed the professional meets your criteria, it is a good idea to make sure you actually like the person. Though a personality contest is not required, this is a pretty key factor in a successful project. You want to make sure you have a team full of people you like to hang out with and spend time with because no matter what level you bring someone in at, you will be required to share time with them.
I recommend my potential clients get this clear and interview or talk with at least 3 people before they make a commitment. It is an intimate and important process. Taking this time in advance will always pay off in the end.
ENJOY THE DESIGN JOURNEY
Though selecting the colors, furniture and the interior layout of your space may not be an obvious life or death situation, your overall happiness is clearly related to these things. I trust you feel this way too, otherwise you probably would not be reading this article which all about changing your spaces to change your life. Believing that your spaces have a deep impact on your quality of life is a fundamental belief to the process.
Take the time to consider your options and then make the right choice for you and your own design journey. Whether you decide to design DIY or DIWY™ or hire a full-service design professional, it is important to enjoy the journey. Because it is in journeys that discoveries are made.
Have fun creating a space that reflects your best self. And remember, it’s not just another pretty space.
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